I'm Not Happy Unless I'm Doing These 3 Things Every Single Week

Monday, September 16, 2019

Remember how I didn't read any books in August? And how I haven't written, like, any blog posts this summer? Well, those two deficits are related - related, that is, to a larger theme of my very busy summer & the lessons I'm learning from it.

There are three things I did none or almost-none of in August:

  1. Reading: As I confessed at the start of the month, August marked the first month in years that I didn't complete a single book. Like, this has literally never happened, not since I started prioritizing & making time for regular reading. 
  2. Writing: I did a lot of freelance writing & work-related writing, but almost no personal writing: I wrote eight blog posts in July, nine posts in August, & only three, thus far, in September. Compare that to my standard of 11 to 13 posts per month the rest of the year - a standard that's usually easy for me to maintain - & it's obvious I fell way behind this summer. 
  3. Riding: I went to my spinning studio three times in August. Just three times. I canceled my attendance of at least six classes, which is also unprecedented. As a result, I barely exercised in August, aside from the days I tried yoga or went for long walks, & I'm back to feeling deeply unhealthy & lethargic, which I hate.
So why didn't I do these things that are otherwise so standard for me, so important to me? The answer is easy, but it's also unacceptable: I didn't feel that I had the time or could make the time.

Instead, I overbooked myself. I traveled a lot, I hosted visitors, & I filled all the in-between moments with plans & other (fun but time-consuming) activities. I took on more freelance writing assignments than ever before, which meant more tight deadlines than ever before. I worked my butt off at my day job (which I'll tell you about in another post, at some point). 

And I suffered for it. I forgot to eat, so I ate junk food or spent too much money on delivery. I asked for extended deadlines. I neglected my email inboxes, both personally & professionally. I barely saw my mother - or even my husband. I struggled to find enough hours in the day to do everything I needed to do.

When I did have downtime, I squandered it. I slept in or worked late instead of going to my spinning studio. Instead of reading books, I surfed Facebook or played Toon Blast, a stupid iPhone game I found myself completely addicted to. I didn't listen to audiobooks, either, instead swapping them out for frivolous podcasts about my Bachelor obsession. And while I brought in extra money (& did some really cool interviews) for my freelance work, all that professional writing meant little to no time for the blog I love so much.

Reading, writing, riding: Each of these three activities is a part of my normal, regular routine, yet last month was so incredibly fast-moving & jam-packed that I could barely find time to sleep or take a shower, let alone indulge in "extra" activities. And yet, I'm coming to realize: These three activities aren't "extra"; they're vital. They're vital to my mental health, to my emotional well-being, to my sense of stability, & to my physical wellness.

And so, in September & beyond, I'm trying to recover. I set just three goals for myself this month, all of them related to trying to get myself back on track - back to being a manageable amount of busy, rather than a detrimental amount - & I'm doing my best.

It starts with scaling back: I'm saying "no" more. I'm going to bed earlier so I can try to wake up earlier. I cut back on freelancing. I'm recognizing when I need to back away from social media. I'm going through my inboxes & responding to everything. And I deleted Toon Blast from my phone (for good this time).

I'm also adding back in the things I love: I'll soon finish at least two books, hopefully with a couple more completed by the end of the month. I scheduled three spinning classes this week, & I bought a calendar to track my workouts. I have a few blog posts in the works, too, with notes taken during vacation & drafts dictated to my phone while I'm cleaning the apartment.

August was busy, & August was great. The whole summer, in fact, could be summed up that way - but fall is coming, & I'm coming back to myself, to my center, to the three things that make me feel the most like myself.

And now I know: When these three things aren't a part of my life, my life is notably less excellent. If I'm not making time for the things I love - the things I love so much that I truly need them for my emotional well-being - then I'm doing too much, & I need to re-prioritize.

What keeps you grounded, centered, & happy? What do you absolutely need to be doing in order to stay healthy & well? 

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